Notes from My Final Weekend @ MSMBC

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  • Thank you for praying for me, my family, and Mt Sinai this weekend. The Lord blessed us. It was a long, busy, special weekend. There was a lot of laughter. A lot of tears. A lot of hugs. A lot of pictures. And a lot of farewells. Not good byes. Just farewell for now.

    This week, my family and I will be moving to Jacksonville, Florida, to begin a in earnest my new pastorate at the Shiloh Church. But I do not believe I would be able to making this transition and follow the Lord’s leading to this new assignment without the prayerful, grace-filled, and encouraging way Mt. Sinai sent us away with their love. I owe Mt. Sinai a great debt that cannot be measured, much less repaid. The wonderful saints of this great congregation are my family. And I love them. I will miss them. And I won’t stop praying for them.

    Thank you, Mt. Sinai, for being you. I am very proud of you. The Lord has done great things in us and through us. And you still have every reason to embrace dreams that are infinitely greater than our wonderful memories!

    Saturday afternoon, there was a luncheon to give us an opportunity to fellowship outside of a corporate worship service. It was well attended by both MSMBC members and well-wishers. And it was great to have the opportunity to chat with members and take a lot of pictures. (Hey, send us some of those pictures! You know who you are.) Admittedly, I did not think it was a good idea to have the luncheon. I protested, but the staff insisted. And I am so glad they ignored my objections and went on with their plans. The luncheon was a very encouraging time for me and my family and the church.

    Pastor Iverson spoke from the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25. I appreciate the sacrifice he made to be with us for the luncheon.

    Many of our family members came to worship with us. I was glad to have them there for our final services at Mt. Sinai.

    For better than ten years, I have dismissed our congregation from worship services by announcing  God’s blessings on the congregation with the words of the Aaronic Benediction recorded in Numbers 6. I chose this text, verses 22-27, for my final message. I entitled the message, “A Great Blessing for a New Beginning.”

    I was prepared to preach. But I was bracing myself for the possibility that I would not be able to great through the material I had prepared. I think I got out the heart of what was needed to say.

    I preached hard both services.

    I think everyone was spent after the second morning service. I really did not expect many to return for the afternoon service. And, frankly, I was not going to hold it against them if they did not come. It had already been a very taxing weekend But the congregation came out in a great way for the closing service. And it was a good time of worship and fellowship, even as the tears flowed.

    My pastor, Dr. Melvin Wade, preached the afternoon service. Oddly, he started preaching and did not call a text or give a title. He just plunged into the story of the providential workings that separated Jacob and Laban. For most of the sermon, which was only about 20 minutes, I sat there wondering where Pas was going with this. I was also riveted as I watched Pas work through this handwritten manuscript, as he preached this text and sermon for the first time. Finally, he got the the end of the story, where Jacob and Laban part ways for the last time. He then asked, “What should we say at a time like this, as the Lord sends H.B. away from us?” He answered with the words of Genesis 31:49: “May the LORD watch between you and me when we are absent one from another.” (NKJV).

    Again, we took a lot of pictures. I will post some of them over the course of this week.

    I grabbed my things and was finally ready to go home for the day. But when I crossed the street to leave, there was a small group standing outside the church. Crystal had started them reminiscing. And by the time I made it across the street, they were ready for impersonations. Boastfully, I claimed how “blessed” I was to pastor there for almost 18 years without one credible impersonation. I guess I spoke 20 minutes too soon. Funny.

    The Dallas Cowboys stomped on the Green Bay Packers 27-16. My team is now 3-0.

    The Jacksonville Jaguars snatched victory out of the claws of defeat with a last minute field goal to beat the Indiapolis Colts 23-21. What’s going on with the Colts?

    Sunday marked another bittersweet farewell. My favorite baseball team, the New York Yankees, played their final game at Yankee Stadium, where they have played since 1923. The team will move across the street next season to play in a brand new, billion dollar stadium. The House That Ruth Built will be demolished. A park with be erected in its place.


    H.B. Charles Jr.

    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.

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